Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: The End.

Browsing some favorite blogs I've seen lots of years end recaps and "Top 10's."
I'm nothin' if not a band-wagon hopper.
So, here I am.
With my own Top 10's.

10 Most Popular Posts:
as indicated by my super high-tech blog analytics
(aka, page views, comments, and general feedback)

#1 - Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
I was right, they ARE the favorites!

#2 - Little Bodies; Big Immune Systems Series
Part One
By the incredible decrease in our doctors visits from Fall '09 to Fall '10 I can safely say my advice was spot on.

This one...oh...I can't read it w/out crying. Neither could you.

The best cut-out cookie recipe...and some pretty cute pictures too.

This edition, along with all the others in the "A Day in..." series have been such interactive fun.

Waaaay too excited about the upcoming new season of The Bachelor...and the blogs to go with it.

#7 - New Quote
Nothing like a little controversy to get the commenters a'commentin'! : )

And all the mama's said, "Amen!"

Kind of makes me wonder if I shouldn't bring the Floor Plan posts back...

Loved the linky aspect of this list and the reading of everyone's favorite things.



My 10 Favorite Posts:
as indicated by...well...me

About Britt

A few of my favorite things.

I found a way to put it into words.

One of my favorite days in 2010.

Um? Yum.

A total love-fest. And why not?

About Evie.

Because it just feels so good to come clean.

The lisping faux pas was just too sweet.

Favorite room in the house...thus, favorite post.

Down to the Wire.

I'm documenting this last day in December today.


Nothing like getting it in at the last minute.
I'm cool under pressure like that.
It's not too late...document with me?

Previous "Days"

We'll post and link up in the first week of January.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Writing Motherhood :: Totally Inspired




I received this book from my mom for Christmas. I'd never heard of it before and at this point I'm only a few chapters in, but I'm already buzzing with excitement over how much inspiration I'm getting from this book.

To learn a bit more about the book (and buy it...because you know you want to be inspired to write about your motherhood journey too) click here.

Thank you, Mom!

And, no, I wasn't paid or bribed to write a post about this book...I really just like it that much.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NYE To-Do List

I'm hosting the sweetest, tiniest of get-togethers for New Year's Eve this year.
I can't venture to call it a party.
The word "party" conjures images of raucous dancing and strobe lights.
This gathering is more at the pace of
babies-sleeping-in-the-next-room,
I-might-fall-asleep-on-the-couch-before-the-ball-drops,
is-anyone-up-for-a-rousing-game-of-11:00pm-scrabble?

Now wait, before you laugh and think,
"Geeze, I'm glad I wasn't invited to this lame party."
You have to keep in mind that NYE for us is normally a non-event that ends around 11:15pm
under the glow of the living room Christmas tree, sparkling cider in hand,
with a shrug and a "Happy New Year, baby. We tried to make it to midnight."

So, this year, I'm outdoing myself with a small celebration to ring in the new.

My to-do list:

Compile the perfect NYE playlist.

Hang twinkle lights.
Everywhere.

Review the recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon (Julia's recipe) and give myself a little pep talk.
"It's just beef stew, it's just beef stew..."

Grocery shop.

Set the table.

Buy sparklers.

Get something glittery to drink.

Compile the rest of the menu.

Place cozy blankets strategically around living room.
(There may be more snoozing on the couch than anything else.)

Find an equally cute and comfy outfit to wear.

Set up make-shift beds for slumbering babies.

Figure out favors.

Make resolutions.



If you have any suggestions in the menu, sparkly drinks or music categories, please leave a comment.
Ideas welcome!

Merry & Bright

It was merry.
It was bright.
It was full of the warmest and fuzziest of warm fuzzies.
Christmas is over now...and I'm admittedly a bit sad.
I'm a Celebraholic.
It's true.


There was snow on Christmas Eve.


There was gathering in the kitchen.



There was gathering 'round the fire.


There was gathering at the table.


 There was snow...
did I mention the snow?
Yeah, it was perfect.


There was waiting patiently.


There was a big-eyed baby ready to tear in.



There were cheese balls.


There were messes.


There were stockings.



There were games to play.


 And there was joy.
So much Joy.





Monday, December 27, 2010

New-ness

Playing around a bit with a new look on the blog.
As much as I'm trying to hold on to the Christmas spirit, I'm ready for a New Year look here.

I still have a few Christmas tales (and the pics to go with) to share with you.
It involves a whole lot o' this:



Keep Celebratin'!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cookies

 I'm not a big fan of the Christmas cut-out cookie.
Unless it is made with my mom's recipe.
In that case, bring on the cookies...lots of them.


 The recipe mom uses is flawless.
Tastes delicious, doesn't puff up when baked,
- thereby creating cookie globs instead of cookie shapes -
a beautiful vessel for icing and sprinkles and keep well for all of the Christmas season.

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house
(for cookie day)we go.

Bakers sufficiently clad...


 Stick with the pictures here, folks. The recipe is at the end.

Baby sufficiently occupied...



Kitchen sufficiently mussed...


All systems "go."
It's time to bake cookies!

I whipped together a batch of Aunt Nona's Crescent Cookies...
before we got to the main event.


We made the dough and then popped it into the fridge to chill for an hour.
In the meantime, what better to do than build a fire and gather 'round for a story and candy canes?


 The hour passes pleasantly...
we cut out stars and cats, angels, bells and Swedish horses.
Bake and...


D E C O R A T E.


Every year I look at the sprinkle-laden, technicolor cookies and think,
"well...they're not too cute, but at least they'll taste good."
And guess what? I'm wrong. Every time.
Yeah, they taste good. They taste great.
But they're so, so, so cute!
Even the ugly ones.
It might be a case of that phenomenon, "itssouglyitscute."
Whatever the reason, they brighten up a cookie platter or cake stand like nothing else.


And the crescents turned out perfectly flaky and newly festive.
Because, instead of plain icing sugar, I added colored sprinkles to the topping.

I realize I'm using an old pepparkakor (Swedish gingersnaps) tin.
It was just too cute not to use.


Butter Cut-Out Cookies

from Susan Branch

2 cups butter -- softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix well. Sift flour and salt together and beat into butter mixture until well mixed.
Roll dough into a ball and refrigerate, covered, for about an hour.
Roll dough onto a floured surface into about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out cookies using cookie-cutters.
When ready to bake, use an ungreased cookie sheet and place cookies 1 inch apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, but do not brown them. Remove cookies from cookie sheet after cooled. Decorate, if you like. Makes 6 to 8 dozen.

For the frosting we just mix confectioners sugar with milk until we get the consistency we want. It takes a whole lot of sugar and just a bit of milk (you can use water instead if you want).


You wont find a better cut-out cookie recipe.
I'm pretty sure of this.
: )

Friday, December 17, 2010

Isn't She Lovely?

Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder has been "Evie's song" since she was a wrinkled (but lovely) little newborn.
It was inscribed on her birth announcement.
It's her anthem.
And lovely she is.

Today is her fourth birthday.
I love four on her.
Her personality is blossoming.
She's becoming a little young lady.
She loves all things girly and feminine;
she also loves a good romp on the living room floor with her brothers,
taking time out for a quick swipe of lip gloss or a moment to tame her hair.

Our first photo together.
December 17th 2006

She adores dresses that twirl.
If a dress doesn't twirl it gets a despondent stare and pout.
As if to say,
Who would ever make a dress that didn't have adequate twirling capabilities?


Our most recent picture.
Today December 17, 2010

Other things that are "all Evie":
french fries, the Eiffel tower, "cardigans", baby dolls, dress up,
baking, watching Giada, nail polish, going somewhere...anywhere,
making up songs about God, books, watching mama put on makeup,
kitchen dance parties, snuggles, sleepwalking, pink, tea parties




Isn't she lovely
Isn't she wonderful
Isn't she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we'd be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn't she lovely made from love

Isn't she pretty
Truly the angel's best
Boy, I'm so happy
We have been heaven blessed
I can't believe what God has done
Through us he's given life to one
But isn't she lovely made from love

-Isn't She Lovely, Stevie Wonder

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Like Bread and Butter

Today the piggies and I made butter.
It just totally indulged my Susie Homemaker side to type that out.
: )


I just started reading to them from Little House in the Big Woods.
The classic by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Gosh, I adore these books.
(Notsomuch on the tv series. Totally cheesy and lame. But the books? Yes, yes, yes.)


The big piggies loved hearing the story of Laura and her family in the woods of Wisconsin.
It's an extra bonus that Gramma Lynda lives there so there was a frame of reference.
There may have been a few squirms and sighs while I was reading the account of how to smoke meat in a hollowed out tree trunk. Ha!
But, all in all, I think they'll look forward to cosying up to a jaunt with Mary, Laura and Pa.
"Pa?! They call their dad Pa?!"

In chapter two there is a run down of how the girls make butter from cream.
When Beck showed interest, I offered to make butter with him.
He was game - and, of course, if Beck is game, so is Miss Evie.


We poured some heavy cream into a jar that has a tightly fitting lid.
And shook.
And shook.
And shook.

This took the place of churning.
Because, as hard-core Ingall's lovers as we are, we don't own a butter churn.

It takes about 5 minutes of good shaking to get your cream to turn into a soft, butter consistency.


The fat turns to butter and the milk separates.
And you have a sweet little mound of new butter amidst the milk.


Fish the lump of butter from the milk and put it into cold water.
I'm not sure why...but Laura told us to, so we did.
: )



Add a bit of salt to your butter and mix.
just a wee bit.


Spread generously on toast.


 Lick your fingers.

The perfect mid morning snack when paired with a mug of hot cocoa.


These are the types of lessons I look forward to doing with the piglets as they get older and we hit homeschooling more formally.

Who wouldn't want to learn this way??


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspiration on a Winter's Day

is a blog I've been reading for a few years.

Whenever I need a little "boost" in the mommy inspiration area -
which seems to happen more in the winter than in the easy-going days of summer -
I trot on over to Stacy's blog and read and read and read.

Never fails.
It gives me the gentle nudge I needed and me (and the piglets) are better for it.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day

This morning the sky was heavy with snow.
White flakes, small and great, drifted to make a flawless blanket;
a frosty covering for the brittle grass.

We had planned to spend our Sunday morning at church.
But, when all was said and done;
when Kenny G's Sleigh Ride was playing softly,
when the coffee was poured and steamed in our mugs,
when breakfast came and went without hurry and nary an item of "church clothes" in sight,
we decided.

We would turn this Sunday into a Snow Day of the grandest kind.

We bird-watched from behind the many-paned window,
fogging it up with our breath.
Cardinals stood in crimson relief against the snow.
They seemed happy to be put in such spotlight, with thier pristine backdrop of white.

The green & red scenes of White Christmas played mutely on the TV;
only to be turned up when a song and dance number came on.

There were reading parties hosted spontaneously on the couch.
We indulged in our favorite Christmas themed stories.

Padded coats, rustling snow-pants (2 sizes too small), and boots were dug from the basement
and tugged on.
The piglets waddled into the white.
Pink noses, sparkly eyes and mittens never looked so charming.

I stirred the hot chocoalte on the stove until it just bubbled and it waited patiently for cold little bodies requesting a warm drink.
Heavy cream whipped into fluffy topping.
Drizzled with caramel.
Peeked out the kitchen window to see how the snow angels were coming along.

A baby in Christmas jammies and green-stripey leg warmers snuggled warmly against me.
He watched the snow and nursed intermittently.
I had the sense that this was a precious moment...
and I stroked his cheek.

The snow-babies came in.
Shivering.
They sipped the cocoa with happy faces and asked for more.
"Later, buddies." I said, "Now it is nap time."

And they went.
Ready to pile the covers over their heads and play at hibernation.

Now it is quiet.
Brawny Man snores on the couch.
I sit, watching the sun emerge and turn the snow from shadowy blue to startling white.

I need to go get groceries.
I need to venture out in the chill.
A slushy trip to market.

Somehow, though it wasn't spent in the walls of church, this morning felt sacred.
Worshipful.

And, so, I'll go about my day - getting things done -
and hold in my heart the feeling of our Snow Day.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mrs. B's Favorite Things

Not nearly as extravagant as her favorite things.
But favorites nonetheless.





A book by MaryJane Butters

A dreamy book of captivating pictures, stories and quotes to inspire the indoorsiest of women to G E T OUTSIDE and explore nature in the most girly and glorious fashion.

Her magazine is one of my favorites, too.
Total farmgirl (or farmgirl wannabe) heaven.










The blessing basket project works to reduce poverty in developing countries by paying Prosperity Wages for artisan products. This model results in permanent financial independence for the artisan.

I have wanted a blessing basket for a few years - since my little sister turned me on to them - I got mine for my birthday this year.
This is simply The Cutest Way to carry all of my mommy must-haves.








Starbucks Venti Holiday Cold Cup

This cup makes me happier than any cup has a right to.
So so happy.
: )

I've received one as a gift and given one as a gift.
Both times I was extraordinarily glad to do so.








Little Women
The movie.

And the book...but, for this list, the movie.
My favorite movie to burrow in and watch during the holiday season.
Quite possibly the best thing Winona Ryder has ever done.
Susan Sarandon too.
And Claire Danes.
And Christian Bale and Kirsten Dunst for that matter.
Oh, Marmee...














The second sister inspired favorite on my list.
And, not coincidentally, the second socially conscious favorite as well.
That sister of mine, she's a good one.






A new find for me.
A local design studio/store that absolutely has my number when it comes to design I love.

Their Siberian Fir candle has been casting it's heady fragrance throughout my house making it smell like a Christmas fir forest in here.


These are the things that delight me.

Compile a list of your Favorite Things
(Oprah style...or notsoOprah style)
and link back here so we can take a tour of every one's favorites just in time for last minute Christmas shopping.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Merry Advent - Days Four thru Eight

Advent Day Four:
Candy.

Advent Day Five:
Ahem...Candy.

Advent Day Six:
A Tree-Trimming Party.


We start with hot cocoa - a must when you're trimming a Christmas tree.

 

Pop in a little Nat King Cole.


And decorate.


Carefully choosing the best placement for each special ornament.


...and then, take the time to admire.


Advent Day Seven:
Candy.don't judge.


Advent Day Eight:
Cookie Baking.


 If there's one thing my piglets love more than candy it would be baking cookies...
with candy in them.
: )


Now, if that's not a "Jif" commercial...


These cookies turned out scrumptious.
Totally.
Oatmeal and candy.
I can dig it.

Everything's In 'Em Cookies

6 eggs
1 c. butter, softened
1 lb. brown sugar
2 c. sugar
1/8 c. vanilla
6 T. corn syrup
1 1/2 lbs creamy peanut butter
4 t. baking soda
9 c. quick cooking oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 lb. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 lb. peanuts (or other nut)
1/2 lb. M&M's

Mix ingredients in order listed in a large bowl. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350* for 12 to 16 minutes.
Makes 10 - 12 dozen cookies.
Did you get that?! 10 to 12 DOZEN cookies.
I cut the recipe in 1/2 when I made these. Because as much as we love cookies, Lord have mercy, we don't love them THAT much!